Lowell Paddock to IAB – We’ll have more news on the Beat at Auto Expo 2014

Posted on: May 9, 2013 - 9:36pm IST

We had a chance to chat with Mr. Lowell Paddock, Managing Director of GM India, on the sidelines of the Chevrolet Enjoy launch. We had some good questions to ask him too!

In conversation with Mr. Lowell Paddock

IAB – With the launch of the Enjoy you’ve had three consecutive launches of top selling China based cars in India. While the Sail sedan has gathered 10,000+ bookings the Sail U-VA hasn’t done well. What do you plan to do to increase volumes? 

Paddock – I would tell you that the Sail hatch has been a slow starter and it has been coming along actually reasonably well. It’s not where I want it to be today but it has been building momentum and I think that now that we have the sedan pulling such strong interest, it is helping drive our numbers on the hatch as well so I fully expect to see stronger demand for the hatch during the year but its driven partially by the overall doldrums of the market right now.

wuling-hongguang-facelift front quarter
Paddock says he’s aware of the Hongguang facelift, but the current car was the only one available at the start of the Indian program.

IAB – The Enjoy you’re launching today is being refreshed in China. Wouldn’t launching the refreshed car have made sense?

Paddock – We wanted to launch right now at this timing and this was the vehicle we had available to us when we started the development process. I’m aware of this new vehicle in China or updated vehicle in China. When the time is right we’ll look at that and whatever updates we need to do here. We have all of our products and we make the right upgrades when it’s the right time to do it.

Chevrolet Beat diesel
We’ll have to wait till 2014 Auto Expo to get an update on the Beat

IAB – The Beat has completed 3 years. Any plans for a refresh? 

Paddock – We wanna remain competitive in this segment so we’ll have some more news to share at Auto Expo next year.

IAB – The sub-4m norms in India have motivated the mini SUV segment. Does GM find potential in this segment with the Trax?

Paddock – The Trax really doesn’t work for us in India because it’s a developed-market product so we wanna look at if we were to launch an SUV here it would be something that would really be appropriate for the Indian market. But in terms of above four meter or below four meter I wanna do the right product for the market. So we have no immediate plans to launch an SUV, when its time to do that we will look at all the various options we have available to us and then make the call at that time on exactly what configuration we offer.

Chevrolet Trax mini SUV
Trax is ruled out for India as its a developed-market product

IAB – Other launches lined up for 2013?

Paddock – We have a few more things to share later this year. Watch this space!

IAB – Can we expect any more Chinese based cars to be introduced?

Paddock – We really look at our portfolio as being composed of three different types of products. One is GM global products like Beat, Cruze, the second is with our partner products like the Enjoy and the Sail, and the third are vehicles that are very unique to India like the Tavera, so we wanna be able to offer vehicles in all three of those categories. So we are gonna continue to work with our partners and look for the right opportunities in the market but right now the focus is on the Sail and the Enjoy.

Chevrolet Tavera Neo3 front fascia
Paddock expects very little cannibalization of Enjoy into Tavera sales.

IAB – The Tavera has been serving fleet operators very well. Does it concern you that the Enjoy could also be used now?

Paddock – We are focusing Enjoy on being a personal vehicle and we are not looking at it to be a fleet vehicle and frankly I see the Enjoy and the Tavera as two very distinctive products. So the Tavera is really a workhorse, it’s a traditional body on frame vehicle, it’s the kind of vehicle you can take into an upcountry environment whereas the Enjoy is more of a passenger car type vehicle so I don’t see the two of them sharing a great deal in common other than the fact that they have eight passenger seating capability.

Chevrolet Camaro SS front view
Unavailability of RHD in Chevy sportscars is one reason why we won’t see them selling in India.

IAB – With the Tavera and Enjoy coexisting don’t you think potential Tavera customers would opt for the Enjoy as it is a brand new product?

Paddock – Well maybe some people that compare them. But as I mentioned the hardcore fleet operators are looking for a vehicle that’s a real workhorse type product and they are willing to make those tradeoffs. Enjoy is a different kind of vehicle, I think of it as more of an evolution of a passenger car rather than devolution, if you will, of the Tavera. So I see them as being two distinct segments but there maybe a cross-over, but not very large.

[This was Lowell Paddock’s video message to our readers early last year. Can’t see the video here, head over to Youtube]

IAB – Indians have taken to automatic gearboxes a lot in the last year or two. Your most affordable auto is the Cruze while competitors such as Hyundai and even MSIL have automatics in hatches and small sedans. Would you explore this technology for the Sail considering there is an option available in China?

Paddock – The Sail has what’s called an AMT or an MTA in China, which is a robotized manual transmission, that’s not an automatic it’s a very different type of technology, although it does shift for itself. We have no plans to offer automatics in the immediate future but you know that General Motors has a wide variety of expertise in automatics around the world and certainly when the conditions dictate and the demand is there we will have a look at it in terms of what the right thing to do is and the right time but no immediate plans to do so.

Chevrolet Beat EV side
Absence of incentives to electric vehicles kills chances of the Spark EV or the Volt in India.

IAB – You’ve shown electric concepts in the past. Would you explore this area in India? 

Paddock – I think we will have to see what the government’s plans are. I mean right now we have a policy but we have no incentives so the switching cost or the adoption cost of an electric vehicle or an electrified vehicle can be very very high. If you look at the history of those types of vehicles, in India they haven’t done very well. So we need to see what the incentives are to overcome that hurdle of purchase-price but we have access to a wide variety of technologies around the world and when the time is right we wanna make sure that we have the right offer.

IAB – This is out of curiosity. Would you ever get the Corvette or Camaro to India?

PaddockWell, I mean, for someone who grew up in a Corvette family am a big fan of the product. So, there’s no immediate plan to do so. Obviously right hand drive would be a requirement and we don’t offer that with right hand drive right now. Perhaps in future models right hand drive would be a capability. The issue is we have to make sure that we don’t have a vehicle that has its bottom turned off by a Bangalore speed bump. You know it’s a great part of Chevrolet history and a great part of the brand. I never say never but there’s no immediate plans to do so.

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8 thoughts on “Lowell Paddock to IAB – We’ll have more news on the Beat at Auto Expo 2014

  1. chronus says:

    Here are my 2 cents based on my experience working at a automotive major…

    While I feel disappointed with GM India’s current product portfolio…. The company seems to be bad at reading the market….
    -Opel Vectra, Corsa hatch, Corsa swing, Optra SRV and
    -Chevy Forrester came here far ahead of their time…
    -Ignoring using 1.3MJD which they partnered in the AVEO twins, optra diesel came too late…
    -Launching Beat (too agressive for Indian taste.?.) with Quality and engineering far superior to Maruti..
    –Tavera BS4 dint launch in 2009-10 due to bankruptcy investment freeze..

    some of the current product choices have been made during Karl Slym’s era… They should have taken bolder decisions in 2009-10.
    Anything Lowell does now will bear fruit only in 2015…
    Afterall any AUTO major takes atleast 30-36 months to launch a vehicle…

    1. Those who are giving examples of BMW and Audi to say Trax can be brought to India… ppl may pay for a BMW/Audi.
    How many would pay 16-20 Lacs for a Chevy Trax?

    As far as comparision to Duster and Ecosport is concerned,I feel the Trax is placed at a higher segment than both…. ( based on Opel Mokka and Buick Encore info..)

    2. The SONIC hatch would have cost 7L+ for petrol and 8L+ for a diesel unless heavily localised… SPIN would have started at 9L+… How many would buy?

    Even then critics would have called GM as losers….

    U have to remember that GM USA was bankrupt in 2009 and would NOT invest in Indian Opertations. Hence the partnership with SAIC… Hence they are allowinng the partner to launch few vehicles..

    I respect some of the critics here n elsewhere…. But most critics want to mouth some BS about its chinese origins…

    Reply
  2. sandy says:

    Guys… in case of Trax, they r talking like the fox who said the grapes are sour after many failed attempts. So no need to get senti. I don’t see any credentials in Trax w.r.t Ecosports and Duster, and loads of many mini SUVs from other manufacturer are going to land into our market. But, yes their Beat and Cruz did satisfy us, diesel Beat is made only for us, right! But where is Captiva? Its long forgotten, So they are hesitated to bring in Trax, which may face similar situation.

    Reply
  3. Rahul says:

    “The Trax really doesn’t work for us in India because it’s a developed-market product.” – Mr. Paddock this is very insulting and foolish statement.

    You should notice that we, Indians, are playing a major role in making Audi numero uno luxury car maker. Also, all big car manufacturers like Volkswagen, Toyota and for the matter of the fact GM itself, rely on Indian market to achieve their long term sales target.

    Still you think Trax will not work for you in India ? Think again. Just bring it here, price appropriately, and you will see a miracle.

    You don’t really know us, we don’t trust the chinese products. Learn from the sales figures of Sail twins… and may be that of the Enjoy now..

    Reply
  4. Arjun says:

    The future of GM/Chevrolet sounds really boring in India. All they’re interested in cashing on budget cars rather than bringing in some great image building products. Basically they’re not putting any effort for the Indian market, yhey don’t want to offer anything new to the Indian market, all they’re doing is bringing in cheap cars from China and launching here. Thumbs down to GM India. They’ve got truck loads to learn from Hyundai, Volkswagen and even Mahindra in that case.

    Reply
  5. Mohammed says:

    This is not a GM specific situation .I feel all top global manufacturers like Toyota, GM, Volkswagen…they all find it hard to crack the Indian market because their global prod portfolio doesn’t just fit our country requirements -a) they are way too expensive b) they don’t meet India specific requirements like usage type, engine, mileage (higher), emission (lower), cabin space, sourcing components which are cheap and low maintenance locally etc etc….

    VW is still stuck with their Polo/ Vento story for ages now and they’re looking at below average sales numbers for loong….But they’re one of the best in the world with a rich portfolio but do not have anything interesting to offer in India…Same story with GM, Toyota and others. And, they pin their hopes primarily on India specific products like the Etios/ Liva, Sail / UVA, Figo for Ford etc. Hyundai has cracked this pretty well and so has Suzuki. Honda has just arrived with the Amaze.

    However, as Indian industry evolves and becomes big enough to justify massive investments, just like China, all global manufacturers would be producing cars just for us, tailor made for our requirements and at an affordable price point.

    Reply
  6. Sushrut says:

    The Trax really doesn’t work for us in India because it’s a developed-market product — This is where the management is horribly wrong in their thinking. There are no hopes for GM. And moreover @ 550 units of Sail-UVA , he is saying the product is coming reasonably well, hilarious! GM should stop blaming the slow down. There is no slow down, its just that people’s preferences have changed and we don’t have too many options in those segments.

    Reply
  7. sandeep says:

    No Trax? they now only wants to focus on bringing in cheap quality chinese models a really good step, so you can see that the carmakers don’t take India serious , a Trax developed-market car so what? that means India can’t have nice cars? an BMW 3er as example is also a developed-market car but does it means they can’t sell it here?. and if they launched the Trax here at a little higher price tag compared to others but offering the standard equipment like in Europe keeping maintain costs low than who say it can’t sell here in great numbers?

    Reply
  8. Ganesh says:

    No Spin, now no Trax. Definitely GM has only plans to bring some cheap chinese products to India and nothing else. Such Losers!

    Reply

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About the Author
Gaurav
Gaurav Malik

A fellow wheeler who has been associated with Indian Autos Blog since December 2011 and a huge fan of SUVs. What's my favorite one you ask? It has to be the Range Rover!